In 1954 the Englishman, Roger Bannister was the first to cross the barrier of running the mile in four minutes. Up until that point, experts thought it was impossible to do…but once Bannister achieved the feat, many others have done so as well. In other words, Bannister was the first to fulfill it which paved the way for others to follow the example. So, too,told Israel to put His Torah on their hearts (Deut 6:6, 10:12-13, 11:18). Unfortunately, they did not fulfill what God said to do.
Then Yeshua came and showed us how to fulfill the Torah. Unfortunately, many have gotten the wrong idea that because he didn’t, now I don’t have to. But that is erroneous thinking; just because Bannister ran the mile doesn’t mean that others don’t have to (to continue the analogy). Since we are all participating in the game of life, then we are naturally in the race. Yeshua’ fulfilling of the Torah doesn’t mean that I am now exempt from doing so! Rather he showed us how we too can do it, just as Bannister showed the world that it can be done.
People that say we don’t have to keep the (Old Testament) Torah any more because Yeshua did it for us are basing that on his words: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [lexical form: πληρόω plero’o]. (Matt 5:17) The idea is that Jesus did all that was required in the law and through his death has freed us from the ‘burden of the law’. This thinking is faulty for several reasons.
- Yahweh, the law giver, said that if a man does them he will live through them. (Lev 18:5)
- Yahweh gave them for our good. (Deut 10:13)
- Yahweh gave the Torah and already put it “very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.” (Deut 30:14-15)
- The notion that the O.T. commandments (Torah) were a burden is not true as we read in 1st John: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1John 5:3)
The word “fulfill” is the key word in this passage. It is also used in Galatians 6:2, where Paul uses the same word to tell us that when we “bear one another’s burdens,” we “fulfill [lexical form: πληρόω plero’o] the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2) So we see that bearing one another’s burdens (an ongoing action) is the means by which we are following Yeshua’s example. This proves that Yeshua’s action of fulfilling the law does not mean that keeping the Torah has been set aside; it means that he did crossed the barrier (which no one had ever done) of living in complete harmony with heart of the Father as revealed in the Torah.
We are told to follow Yeshua’s example:
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1John 2:6)
And we are to make disciples:
“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matt 28:20)
We too have the opportunity to fulfill the law and be in harmony with the heart of the Father. In fact, we are expected to walk just as he walked. Yeshua did not do the Torah so we don’t have to (as it taught by many churches); rather, just like Bannister who “fulfilled” the four-minute-mile, Yeshua crossed the “here’s-how-you-live-out-the-Torah barrier” showing us how to do it as well. If we fall on the race track of life, we simply need to get back up and keep running until we too fulfill it.
“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again…” (Prov 24:16a)